Google's autocomplete function 'reveals anonymous rape victims'

The autocomplete function on Google is reportedly helping people uncover the identity of anonymous rape victims.

Users searching for attackers and alleged attackers in high-profile sexual assault cases can see the names of women who were the victims, The Times reported following an investigation.

The UK paper also found typing in the name of the victim will bring up the identity of the person accused of the crime.

Google’s autocomplete feature is reportedly identifying anonymous victims of sexual abuse. Source: Getty Images, file.

The autocomplete function on Google makes suggestions in the search bar as soon as the user starts typing.

It is thought the algorithm Google uses suggests the names of the victims after they were searched for when illegally named on social media.

Fay Maxted, chief executive of the Survivors Trust, said it was “beyond shocking that Google is facilitating access to the names of victims”.

Google said they are aware of the reports but clarified they work effortlessly to ensure this does not happen. Source: Getty Images, file.

Breaking the anonymity that protects the names of victims and alleged victims can lead to a prosecution.

In NSW, prosecution can lead to fines of up to $5500 and six months imprisonment for individuals, while corporations can face fines of up to $55,000, a paper from the Tasmania Law Reform Institute states.

A Google spokeswoman told The Times they were actively working to remove any possibility of this occurring.

“We don’t allow these kinds of autocomplete predictions or related searches that violate laws or our own policies and we have removed the examples we’ve been made aware of in this case,” the spokeswoman said.

“We recently expanded our removals policy to cover predictions which disparage victims of violence and atrocities, and we encourage people to send us feedback about any sensitive or bad predictions.”